In Portuguese saudade (pronounced “sau-da-de”) describes a profound longing for an absent something or someone. It’s also the name of a two-week-old bakery in Torrens Park serving only pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) and coffee.

Ownership is split between two Lisbon-born couples – Carla and Miguel Alemao, and Mafalda Azevo and Joao Valle – who met through mutual Portuguese friends in Adelaide. “We miss the custard tarts [from home],” says Carla Alemao. “So we thought we’d give that name – Saudade – to our project.”

You may recognise the blue-and-white branding from its Adelaide Central Market pop-ups last year. A former Vietnamese-roll shop in Mitcham Square Shopping Centre serves as a more permanent home.

The concept came first, and the team worked backwards from there. Azevo undertook two TAFE courses (in patisserie, and baking); consulted with a Portuguese baker in Australia; and conducted blind tastings before jetting home to train at Fábrica da Nata – a Lisbon bakery turning out award-winning tarts. The owner, a friend of Azevo’s husband, shared his top-secret recipe.

“You can follow exactly the same recipe [with local ingredients] and the result will be different,” Azevo says. She tweaked it to incorporate Laucke Mills flour from the Barossa and Rohde’s free-range eggs from the Clare Valley.

The crispy, custard-filled tarts may look simple, but Saudade has making them down to a fine art. We’re told the secret is in the puff pastry. And the Portuguese-imported, tart-specific oven with customised chamber sizes and a necessary 400-degrees-Celsius capability (most Australian ovens max out around 250).

“If you don’t know what a real Portuguese tart is you think [what’s served in Australia] is great,” says Alemao. “But there’s no comparison.” Azevo chimes in: “A lot of Australians have been travelling to Portugal lately so they know what to expect.”

Certain expectations come with a one-item menu. Tarts are baked and sold on the same day, without exception; and Alemao is cutthroat when it comes to inconsistencies (“If two or three [of a batch] go to the bin, bad luck!”). You’ll leave with instructions on “how to eat and treat our babies,” Azevo says, with a smirk.

Pair your tart(s) with a locally roasted Segafredo coffee poured from a top-of-the-range, multi-boiler La San Marco machine.

Mitcham Square Shopping Centre, 119 Belair Road, Torrens Park
Mon to Wed 8.30am–5pm
Thu 8.30am–7pm
Fri & Sat 8.30am–5pm